The Places You’ll Go—With Alaska Airlines

By Emma Krasov

Taking part in The Future of Food Roadshow in Singapore and Hong Kong and listening to the panels of ideologues, concept creators, process executors, sponsors and suppliers of the said future was an exciting adventure.

Flying business class to the prominent Asian destinations on Alaska Airlines’ partner Cathay Pacific Airways was a dreamy journey through friendly skies in the lap of luxury.

Alaska Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways partnership

I arrived at the San Francisco International Airport early enough to enjoy the Cathay Pacific Lounge with its quiet elegance and care for privacy. Individual workstations, shower facilities, cozy reading areas with plush furniture, and an abundant supply of well-prepared food and drink were all designed for utmost convenience of world travelers about to embark on a long cross-continental flight.

It turned out to seem not too long after all. Comfortably seated in my little pad in the business class cabin of Airbus 350-900, I took a few minutes to fully appreciate the many wonderful things that surrounded me. The reverse herringbone seats configuration, plus the individual seat design granted enough privacy for work and relaxation. A side shelf served for my books, notepads and electronic devices; a cabinet with power supply contained on-ear headphones, a bottle of Evian water, and an amenity kit in a gray designer pouch with Cathay Pacific logo; the length of the pad was enough to fully outstretch my legs and keep them elevated whenever I needed to take my feet off the floor.

After indulging in a few new releases of Hollywood and foreign flicks on my TV monitor, and consuming a gracefully served dinner with cocktails (I went for Cathay Delight non-alcoholic kiwifruit drink with coconut milk and mint), followed by a chocolate truffle offered by a smiling flight attendant, I happily moved my chair into a flat position, unfolded fresh bed linens and fell fast asleep until early morning.

Before I went to bed, I placed an order for my breakfast, choosing between Western, Chinese, Continental, and Express—served shortly before landing (unless a box “don’t wake me up if I’m asleep” is being checked).

Arriving in Hong Kong, I couldn’t believe how fast the 14 and a half hours of flight went by!

At the Hong Kong International Airport The Wing Business Class Lounge, I took a delightful break enjoying a cup of coffee with barbecue pork char siu bao before boarding my next flight to Singapore.

Charmed by the comfort and quality of service on all Cathay Pacific flights I took on this trip, and fully aware that Alaska was the only official airline sponsor of the international tour I was attending, I’ve learned quite a few things about the connection between the two airlines.

Within its Global Partners network Alaska takes passengers to more than 800 destinations worldwide, since more than 15 airline partners include such far-reaching carriers as Cathay Pacific, EL AL and British Airways. Alaska’s Mileage Plan Program rewards frequent fliers based on distance flown, not just dollars spent, which gives travelers the ability to earn and redeem miles throughout the entire Global Partners network.

Alaska is quite savvy with onboard food offerings, and was awarded “healthiest food in the sky for North American carriers” by Diet Detective (Charles Platkin, Ph.D., MPH, who’s “made it his life’s mission to help people move more and eat healthier”).

Inspired by the West Coast food scene, the airline puts emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable and delicious, with rotating seasonal menus, locally-sourced ingredients and feel-good snack and beverage options from West Coast brands, like Salt & Straw, Luke’s Organic and Fremont Brewing. In other words, as the company motto implies, “Fly smart. Land happy.”

In turn, Cathay Pacific has more than a hundred weekly nonstop flights from ten North American cities, and flies to more than 180 destinations on five continents through its main hub at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline consistently ranks among the top ten carriers across several categories by the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards and has been awarded “World’s Best TransPacific Airline” four times.

Inflight cuisine on Cathay Pacific’s “Home Flavors of Hong Kong” features traditional dishes like prawns in superior broth with vermicelli, baby Chinese cabbage, wolfberries, and steamed jasmine rice that I had on my flight back home, from Hong Kong to San Francisco.

GlobalSF, a San Francisco non-profit

Involved with international projects that go beyond delivering passengers from point A to point B, Alaska Airlines became one of the biggest sponsors of the Future of Food Roadshow intended for creating global connections, visiting food innovation hubs, building partnerships, and finding investment opportunities. The Roadshow was led by GlobalSF, a non-profit focused on international economic development in partnership with the City of San Francisco. GlobalSF oversees the City of San Francisco’s initiatives ChinaSF, LatinSF and SFAsia.

In GlobalSF’s own words, the organization’s activities amount to the following: “We help international companies to locate, invest, and grow in the San Francisco Bay Area while helping locally-based companies expand into global markets. Through our network and acumen in global business, government, and cultures, we help businesses thrive in San Francisco and across the globe.”

The Future of Food Roadshow, October 2019

In the course of the Roadshow earlier this month GlobalSF co-hosted two major events.

The Future of Food in ASEAN Forum in Singapore presented in partnership with Level3/Padang & Co./Unilever Foundry was “focused on drawing together agri-food startups and investors from Southeast Asia and the SF Bay Area to explore global trends and build partnerships. GlobalSF used Singapore as a strategic jumping off point for connections in Southeast Asia and a fantastic test bed for food system innovation.”

The Food’s Future Summit co-hosted with Foodie Group Limited in Hong Kong highlighted food innovation coming from the San Francisco Bay Area and from around the world and conducted several panel discussions during the two-day event covering a wide range of relevant topics.

In both events, the delegates and speakers concentrated on the many ways the future of food is being addressed today. Plant-based alternatives, partnerships with scientists and universities, support for food-innovation startups, cell agriculture, new technologies to make food supply more sustainable, inclusion of proteins derived from insects, smart kitchen, management of food waste, safety of foodstuffs and food-contact materials, functional and medical foods, and the use of artificial intelligence came into focus alongside exclusive product launch announcements from the most innovative food brands.

Three Bay Area celebrity chefs at The Future of Food Roadshow

The San Francisco delegation included three celebrity chefs—award-winning author and restaurateur Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen, Chef Belinda Leong of b. patisserie, and Chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s.

All three chefs participated in lively panels, and worked in test kitchens incorporating new ingredients in their special dishes prepared for the Summit’s “Cocktails and Conversations” closing reception.

At the panels, the Bay Area chefs addressed the notion of switching away from animal products by the year 2030:

“I don’t know if I’ll be serving GMO meats or lab grown meats in my restaurants,” said Tanya Holland. “But I do feel responsibility. I understand the ramifications of eating the way we are eating now. I might introduce new ingredients in the future. I developed some recipes for Impossible [the meatless meat brand—E.K.] and they were tasty.”

Belinda Leong admitted that it’s very difficult to use new ingredients in baking. “We use a thousand pounds of butter a week,” she said. “We’re a French bakery, believe in quality. Not using real eggs, cream and butter is hard, but we started using some of the new ingredients, like vegan butter.”

Brandon Jew said that his restaurateur philosophy puts emphasis on promoting hard-working small farmers who supply high-quality meats and produce, and educating staff and diners on his restaurant’s hand-on approach to cooking. “We’re used to creating our own ingredients,” he said. “We color food with red beet juice and red rice. Our staff is learning the process of fertilization, building sauces from scratch. I’m in love with vegetables, so I try to give more diverse vegetables to my diners, but I hold dear my meat sourcing, the farmers I work with. I can’t subscribe to something I personally don’t believe in. We aren’t going to serve GMO meats, we aren’t impressed with the product. I think a consumer has to have a choice.”

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Images courtesy Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Food’s Future Summit